Finding the right health service
You can access Northern Ireland's Health and Social Care (HSC) Services in a range of ways depending on what you need. Here's an overview of the main services available to help you get the treatment you need.
HSC service finder
You can find Health and Social Care providers in your area using the HSC service finder tool. This includes:
- emergency departments
- HSC service finder - HSC website
Your doctor/general practitioner (GP)
Your local doctor's (GP) surgery provides:
- general medical advice and treatment
- referrals to a specialist or a hospital
To register with a doctor's surgery, talk to the receptionist who can tell you whether you live in the area the surgery covers and if it has room for new patients.
If you're registering a new baby, you'll need to fill in the registration card you receive from the General Registry Office when you register your baby's birth, and take it to your doctor's surgery.
Health Service dentists
You don't need to wait until you have toothache to visit the dentist. In fact, a check-up every six months will help to prevent any major problems developing.
Chemists and pharmacists
Pharmacists, or chemists as they are often called, are experts on medicines. They will prepare prescriptions for you as issued by your doctor. All prescriptions dispensed in Northern Ireland are now free of charge.
Pharmacists can also give advice on treatments that can be bought over the counter.
Accident and emergency / 999
If you are seriously ill and need emergency care, you can go straight to an accident and emergency (A&E) department at a hospital near you. Alternatively, you can call 999 for an emergency ambulance.
You will be seen in the Emergency Department based on your medical condition which is assessed by a member of staff when you first arrive.
If you decide to go to the Emergency Department, the link below shows the current average waiting time to see the nurse or doctor who will treat you at those participating hospitals across Northern Ireland.
Health visitors and community nurses
Health visitors are specially trained nurses who provide advice and support in the community for people whose health may be vulnerable.
If you have a child under the age of five you will usually be assigned a health visitor when your baby is about 10 days old.
If this doesn't happen, contact your GP's surgery and they will let the local health visitor know.
If you, or a member of your family, need nursing care or support at home, a community nurse or health visitor could help.
The people they work with could be ill or disabled or have physical or mental health problems.